Fast Yes…Friendly…NO!

I am person who likes to shop local when I can.  Sometimes they don’t have what I am looking for, and sometimes, I’ll be honest, I don’t like the service.

Remember two weeks ago when the thread got wrapped around the hand wheel of my sewing machine…


Later that week, at the last minute I had to run into town.  I hadn’t cleaned up the machine because it was my intention that I would have it cleaned and serviced when the service person removed the thread.  I am not a girl who wastes my time cleaning something that I paying someone else to clean.

I ran into the quilt shop of the local Bernina dealer.  I waited for service at the counter.  I was standing there…no one acknowledged me.  The one gal in the store was cutting fabric and could easily see me, but didn’t acknowledge me until a couple minutes passed.  I started to walk over to the cutting table with the machine and then she called up the repair person.  I explained what was wrong the machine and apologized for not cleaning the machine but that’s what it was there for….  I was so happy when she suggested that she had some time and would look at it right away.  I gave her my cell phone saying I had errands and she could call me once she was done with the machine.

An hour later my phone rang and my machine was ready…WOW, that was fast.

I went to pick it up.  At the register in a very LOUD, accusing, snide voice the service gal says, “WOW, how long has it been since you had  your machine serviced?”  I said, “Quite awhile”.  Still accusingly she said, “You really need to get that cleaned”.   I am confused…I thought she had cleaned it when she took the thread off….apparently not.   Now I was a little ticked.  1st off…it’s my machine and can do and treat it however I want.  2nd…I thought she was cleaning it.  3rd..the condition of my machine is not the business of every other shopper in the store.  4th..she is a service worker so serve not accuse.  Then she says..still accusingly…”You know your bobbin winder is broke too.”  I just said yep.  I just wanted to get out of there at this point.  The winder wasn’t broke before but I’ll be darned if she was going to touch my machine.

Now someone who was practicing good customer service would have done this….first off communicated in a way so she would have understood in the first place that I wanted the machine serviced.  Second if she didn’t understand that, she should have called me on phone and said, “I noticed it may have been awhile since your machine was serviced.  I don’t have time to do it now.  Would you like me to keep the machine and do that for you or need the machine today?”  She should have never talked to me accusingly.  She should have never talked in a loud voice so the whole store could hear.

I am all for shopping local…but customer service trumps MANY things for me.  I’ll pay more. I’ll drive further.  I’ll recommend like crazy if I get good customer service.  Some of best customer service I’ve had….Amazon, Zappos, Fareway Grocery Stores (an Iowa chain), Country Threads Quilt Shop in Garner Iowa,  Teluwat Restaurant in Cresco, Iowa,  Blue Heron Knittery in Decorah, Iowa…  Some are local…some are not.  Give me friendly face, polite respectful chit chat and the price tag can be a dollars extra…I don’t care about money.  I’ll gladly take a slow friendly worker over a fast grump too.

I think my machine may have to go for a ride to the other quilt shop…the Pfaff dealer…maybe they can clean it…or wait, maybe we’ll have to go to the other Bernina dealer, Calico Hutch in Hayward.  I’ve had GREAT customer service there and I like Katie too.  I’d love an excuse to visit there.  maybe this all turned out good.

So any guesses on how much it cost for my grumpy service?  If you guess $58, you’d be right!

31 thoughts on “Fast Yes…Friendly…NO!”

  1. WAY TO VENT! Customer service reps at machine shops dont make enough money per hour to compensate for their time, if they dont love the job! She obviously was there for the wrong reasons!

  2. That is ridiculous! I don’t blame you for going to a “friendly” shop, as I have had the same problem and just decided the same as you. I will tell everyone I know and there are a lot, like you about good service and also about lousy and terrible service! But I would also let the lousy ones know just how lousy they are and why you won’t be frequenting their shop anymore.

  3. Sad part is, that grump doesn’t realize she lost business when she was up there riding her self-righteous horse! You should send her a copy of your blog entry. Hugs. Fran

  4. Sad part is, that grump doesn’t realize she lost business when she was up there riding her self-righteous horse! You should send her a copy of your blog entry. Hugs. Fran

  5. Jo, Please call the shop and ask to speak with the owner. Explain calmly what happened and what you expected – a clean machine; and see what they do. If it was me (we are planning to open a pool supply store with water testing next month) I would apologize, and then do whatever I could to make you happy so I didn’t lose a customer. I’d also write up the employee and then speak with them on how to properly treat a customer. Good luck and I hope they remedy the situation to your liking.

  6. Makes you wonder how some of these places stay in business, right? Sometimes I wonder if management gives any instructions at all in customer service and manners. I think Deb gives good advice, though…

  7. Print out a copy of what you just wrote down here–as a letter and send it to the owner of the shop. There are so many places closing up these days and people without work. Maybe they would like to see one of the reasons that they lose business. I have one repair person who I trust with my machine. He is not cheap and at times I feel that I was cheated but he knows what he is doing and does a great job. The last time I dropped off my machine for service, in Sept, it cost me $124. Way more than I expected but it runs like new. I piece and machine quilt on my machine and that does a number on it.

  8. I totally agree with you, having had similar experiences at a LQS in the next town. Plus I’m pretty sure that the last time I took my featherweight in, they didn’t do anything at all to it! But they still charged me for service! They also kept my friend’s Juki for over 3 months and still didn’t fix it! So now I tell all my sewing peeps not to take their machines there. I’ve found a great guy who comes to my house to repair my machines, and an industrial repair shop for major fixes that he can’t handle. But I agree, you should tell the shop owner exactly why you won’t be back. They should at least have a chance to improve, even if they choose not to use it!

  9. Oh my! Does this happen often or was the lady just having a very bad day! I totally agree with others that I would contact the owner. With that said, I think I’d head for Hayward! I’ve only had the pleasure of being at the Calico Hutch once – a number of years ago when we were traveling. The people there were fabulous. My husband asked questions and was delighted to be told the history of their building. It was a very nice shop with great customer service! ~Jeanne

  10. If we are thinking of the same quilt shop, I don’t know that calling the owner would be productive. I vote Calico Hutch. They have cooler fat quarters, anyway. Or go across the street and buy me yarn! :) Love you, Mom!

  11. I agree with the people who have said print off a copy of this blog post and give it to the owner. She deserves to know. Maybe something will come of it – maybe it won’t but she needs to know. I also think I would have said to the service person – I know that machine needed to be serviced that why I asked you to do it.

    I had purchased a sewing machine from a semi-local shop, also Bernina actually hmmm, and got absolutely horrible service from them no matter what. I remember waiting right at the cutting table for someone to cut the bolts of fabric I had stacked there and finally I just went and put them all back – keep in mind I had a small child in a stroller with me too – and the staff was chatting/gossiping to each other! The service man was rude and condescending and never seemed to be able to fix my machine. Finally I sold my machine and bought a different brand through a different dealer – Pfaff – and now I am extremely happy and purchased another machine and a quilting frame through them. I don’t shop at the other store ever anymore.

    I never told the owner about my experiences and I don’t think anyone else ever did either so nothing ever changed even though a lot of us had the same experience. Maybe things would have changed if we spoke up? Maybe not though.

    The only real power we, as consumers have, to to voice our opinions with our $$$; and, not hand any of it over to places that don’t deserve it.

    Great blog post Jo!!

  12. I do understand how you feel – customer service is the top priority of businesses – or at least it should be. Which is why I no longer go to one of the quilt stores here in town. Several times I’ve gone in and they were all so busy talking to each other that I never got waited on and left.

  13. Judy D in upstate NY

    I have Husqavarna and have had the same experience with the owner of the local shop. (As have many others in our area). I now take my machine to Rutland, VT to be serviced. It is a bit of a pain but I am not spending my dollars where the service is lousy and the people unfriendly.

  14. I am with you on this one! There is a certain amount of value you receive with good customer service. In my opinion, you add this to the “deal” you are getting on the actual product or service. In some cases, shopping small & local means the total value is more than a big chain or online, but in some cases, it falls way short.

  15. customer service truly trumps everything. i had a horrible experience this holiday season with an online retailer and, after weeks of arguing with them, i cancelled my order and paid a good amount more than originally planned for the item. and you know what? i don’t really care because the place i ordered it from the second time did an outstanding job.

    i did send a three page letter to the corporate offices of the other retailer and have heard absolutely nothing from them. zilch. nada. can’t say i’m surprised, either.

  16. How rude! I’d definitely go to the other Bernina dealer, and I’d let the first place know you are dissatisfied with a lengthy explanation of what they did wrong (you could just print off this post along with all of the comments), and let them know you will not be coming back nor will you recommend their business to others. Seriously!

  17. I agree with all the comments about letting the shop owner at least know about your displeasure. Just yesterday I went to a local quilt shop to buy fabric. She noticed my book I had with me right away. I showed her what I was going to make and she guided me to where the different jelly roles were located. She also instructed me to check how many strips in each role since not always do they have the same amount. I appreciated that since I was not aware of that part. I needed one with at least 20 strips for my project. So I browsed and later she came to me to see if I found any “inspiration” yet. Her words. I loved that! I said I had and showed her what I was considering. When I was ready she immediately put aside what she was doing to cut my fabric and mentioned to another co-worker what I was going to do with the fabric. So I had to show her too. It was great. She was very apologetic about the transaction taking so long to finalize at the register too. A great place to shop. It dawned on me to ask her where I could take my feather-weight to see if it can be fixed. I think I will!

    Good luck with future attempts to get your machines fixed!


  18. Sometimes I think customer service is a thing of the past. As for buying locally, I live in a town with a pop. of less than 400 so there isn’t a whole lot I can get locally other than groceries, some hardware/lumber and gas, certainly not any service for my Pfaff. The nearest Pfaff dealer is in Columbus 2 hrs. away. So I take my machine to a shop in Norfolk 1 hr. away for cleaning, timing and such. It’s a Janome/drapery making shop where my grandmother bought her first electric sewing machine many, many years ago. It tells you something that they have been in business for that long. There’s another sewing machine/vacuum cleaner shop in Norfolk where I will never take a machine again because of the attitude. The guy there tends to treat customers with ailing sewing machines like they’re idiots and I just don’t have to take that kind of treatment. :)

  19. I went to purchase a vehicle (a trailblazer priced about 10,000) and was told that I had to have a pre-approval letter from the bank in order to test drive the vehicle. (At the time I looked about 18 and was really in my 30’s so this happened A LOT not so much! hehe) Asked if they were serious, nicely, and thanked them and walked out. Well so much for shopping locally. Went to a neighboring town and purchased a Yukon instead (much more expensive of a vehicle then the blazer I might add). I made sure to drive my new truck, with stickers still on, back to the dealership that treated me like crap and look at some of the vehicles they wouldn’t let me test drive…should have seen the look on their faces when they realized it was me! Maybe they learned a lesson, maybe not. Probably not the right way to deal with the issue but I felt better :) Sorry Jo they treated you like crap. Now if they only knew how much you sewed maybe she would have been a bit nicer about the dirty machine. Bet her poop don’t stink either… gheesh!

  20. I recently had a bad experience too. I made a purchase at Rite Aid and the clerk threw my change at me. It went in my purse, on the floor and on the counter. He didn’t acknowledge anything…just turned and walked away! I had been pleasant to him but he sure wasn’t to me. I really appreciate good customer service too!!

  21. Ouch! How rude can you be? You’ve gotten some good advice about contacting the shop owner…you might want to also send an email to Bernina. I can’t imagine that they would want you to leave a service center upset and with your machine in less than optimal condition.

    The best way to come to an equitable solution is to let people know there’s a problem.

  22. Sorry you had to go through this, Jo…I too have encountered rotten customer service, and believe me…my face does not darken their door again! Vote with your feet, and let the manager/owner know why!

  23. You’re so right about customer service is a main reason to go back to a shop/store. I drive miles farther to a Radio Shack because the closest one to me doesn’t come close to treating me in a respectful manner. I stopped going to the local quilt shop due to the attitude of the owner. The last time I went was to their closing.

  24. I took my machine in to be fixed as it wasn’t running right and ‘the local Bernina dealer’ found all these problems and told me it would be over $300. I found another dealer highly recommended on and my machine only needed to be cleaned (less than $100)! I now travel 1 hour instead of 20 minutes but the service is well worth the time spent driving.

  25. It is sad. I also try hard to buy local. I try very hard to support mom and pop businesses. Many times I am rewarded with sincere appreciation for buying from their business. Sometimes I am rewarded with the attitude that they were doing me a favor by opening their business and allowing me to shop with them.
    As a former business owner I know it doesn’t take many unhappy experiences to lose multiple customers. If I upset you enough you WILL tell someone. Once you tell someone, their attitude changes. They start paying closer attention to how they are treated.
    I am fortunate that I was blessed with a servant attitude and love going the extra mile to make someone happy they bought from me. I know a few business owners, and worked for some that never thought twice about how to treat a customer. I have no idea how they stay in business.
    Enough rambling…Happy New Year!

  26. I’d sure head to the OTHER shop too … and let THIS owner know how you were treated ! We had a new LQS open here where attitudes were much the same, employees often did not greet you or stood around talking with each other instead of helping customers. This happened on numerous visits, both solo, with my daughter and with quilting friends. No one from our guild or bee had a good experience there. No surprise, in less than 2 years time, this shop folded ! There are several other GOOD LQS s in our city and they are STILL in business !!

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